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JAPANESE POLICE CONCERNED ABOUT MOBILE PHONE USE

NEW YORK-The National Police Agency of Japan announced March 14 that nine people were killed in the last six months of 1996 as a result of accidents involving drivers using mobile phones.

In addition to nine fatalities during the second half of last year, the National Police Agency reported 1,600 people were injured in 1,140 automobile accidents nationwide caused by distracted drivers using wireless handsets.

Japan doesn’t have a law restricting or banning the use of mobile phones by drivers of automotive vehicles, according to a spokeswoman for the Japan External Trade Organization in New York. And legislation to restrict such use is not under consideration, she said.

However, the number of automotive accidents caused by distracted wireless phone users has caused the Japanese police to publicly criticize the practice, according to published reports. Police have asked drivers to refrain voluntarily from using telephones while driving.

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